"I'm one of those girls who is just always cold, no matter what the temperature around me happens to be. So as a Texas Gulf transplant to the big city, East Coast winters have been a major adjustment. It's taken me three years to entirely relearn how to dress when the temperature nosedives, and this cozy 100% wool sweater literally saved the day.
"It solved the problem of easy layering for warmth as soon as I pulled it out of the box. When it's 50 degrees, I pull it over my T-shirt or blouse to wear instead of a light jacket — and if I still lived in Houston, it could easily be a substitute for an appropriate "winter coat." When it's 30 degrees, it layers up nicely with my warm New York winter coat to keep me cozy. When it's below 20, it's always the snuggliest of many layers under my heavy coat.
"I wear it in the office to shelter from the freezing AC, I pull it on over my PJs for a quick run to the drugstore. It's not, like, 'sexy' in a skintight way, but it's everything I want to wear when I spend a snowy Saturday Netflixing in my favorite boyshorts and knee-high socks. It's also about $200 cheaper than many similar sweaters you'll find available in the US, especially if they're made of 100% wool.
"Of course, every product has its downsides: So far, this sweater seems to have two. It's incredibly difficult to wash, because it should be gently washed by hand. The yarn, soaking up lots of water, gets really heavy, and begins to smell like literal sheep. Then it takes ages to dry. I do it, but only every three or four months. Also, since it is 100% wool, it can get itchy. I found that my skin doesn't complain or itch when the weather is cool enough that the sweater becomes necessary, but you'd have to know if your skin might.
"Update: Ailbhe Malone, our UK lifestyle editor who happens to actually be Irish and wear these sweaters all the time, sent me this sweater-washing tip! 'I wash mine in the bathtub, then wring out most of the water by rolling it up on itself in the bathtub,' she says. 'Once it's not sopping wet, I then lay it on a thick towel and roll it up in the towel a couple of times — by the time I've done all this, it's not as wet and dries pretty much overnight!'"—Natalie Brown
Get it from Aran Sweater Market for $84.95. / Available in women's sizes XS–3XL, seven colors.